Fernando Verdasco was seemingly struck by a severe case of amnesia this week in Barcelona. After being absolutely annihilated by Rafael Nadal 6-0, 6-1 in the final of Monte Carlo a week ago the Spaniard gathered himself, threw on his best Calvin Klein undies (crotchless, perhaps?) and made his way to the final where he bested Robin Soderling 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 for his fifth career title.
It really does say something about a baller's state of mind and confidence when they can be utterly stomped on one week and come back and fight through some tough matches to take the crown the next week. I'm not saying he's going to win Roland Garros but these are the moments you can see a baller's growth and hard work paying off. He still has some demons to conquer (beating Rafa on ANY surface, for instance) but he seems to be moving in a positive direction and lifting his game at the right time.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands was the unlikely choice to play heroine at during this weekend's FED CUP semifinal bout between the U.S. + Russia but she's never been one to be conventional.
After being dealt a 1-2 deficit when Melanie Oudin went down to Elena Dementieva 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-3 in the third singles rubber, BMS seemed to understand the moment, digging in and using her all-court game to tough out a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win over Ekaterina Makarova and evening things up with the Russians. She returned to the court with Liezel Huber for the deciding doubles rubber against Elena + Alla Kudryavtseva, and the pair clinched the tie with an easy 6-3, 6-1 decision. The U.S. will now face a rematch of last year's FED CUP final when they face defending champs Italy in November.
BMS had all the pressure after Mels went down to Lena but she came through for the team when it really mattered, staying aggressive against Katia by serving-and-volleying at times, taking returns early and attacking the net when she could. I loved watching her game do the talking this time and not her fashion, which still has a lot to say that's not worth listening to. So stick to the tennis BMS, it's working for you. The other thing? Not so much. But you knew that.
[Photo(s): Getty, AP]